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Monday, January 19, 2009

Marketing, the Next Installment

I have news before I start:

To review events, two weeks ago I found out serendipitously that A Lever Long Enough was one of seven candidates for the ACFW's March Book Club selection (link to join this free Club is HERE). While I was happy with God's will on whichever book was selected, I recognized that this was a good opportunity and would have loved to win if possible. I wrote to many of you to ask that if you were a member of this club, would you please consider voting for me!

Last weekend the poll was closed. My book and one other book were finalists. The final runoff poll started this past Tuesday and lasted until Saturday two days ago. I prayed that whichever book was chosen, God's Kingdom would be advanced.

I am pleased, humbled, and excited to announce that I WON!

Many of you voted for me, and I just want to say thank you, thank you! You allowed me to have an amazing opportunity. I so appreciate your confidence and help in this whole process, and I won't forget it.

So, this is where the rubber meets the road. I pray that Lever hits its marks during the month of March. I am eager to hear feedback, have the book touch hearts, and basically have it become a little better known. This is a big club of about 728 members, so the possibilities could potentially snowball.


The goal of marketing, as well as I have been able to understand it, is to get that wonderful *Word of Mouth* (WOM) phenomenon where *everyone* seems to be buzzing about your product, whatever it may be. There are some books written about this, such as Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and many others. I've flipped through some of these books; they have common sense observations, but nothing that you probably couldn't figure out on your own. This is my own opinion, for whatever it's worth.

This WOM comes about serendipitously, through a lucky confluence of a number of factors. Even so, there are a few things that increase the chances. The first and most important factor is that you must have a top-notch product. If it's not good, even if you ignite the sparks they will not be able to catch: Witness certain well-known figures getting a massive book advance, and the resounding flop of the book sales. All the advertising in the world can't prop up a bad book.

The next thing is that you must show up. You must tirelessly work to get your book's name out there, in as many venues as possible.

My last entry finished with my sending out a bunch of books cold to review sites. In general I don't do cold applications, but some of these places especially the big ones don't consider books any other way. For my After-Action Report on this aspect, I think I'd only consider sending books to the big-three sites (Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal) on the off-chance that they might take a look since it would be such a coup if they did, but then again maybe not even these. Although many of the books I'd read highly recommended this maneuver, for me cold reviews were a disappointing flop. And FYI, I plan to resend to Midwest Book Reviews cold (because, after all, they did write to me), but that's it.

There were other major groups that I sent books out to: invited book reviews, influencers, contests, and potential marketing groups, to name a few. And notice that I sent out A LOT of books. This is critical to start getting your book's name out there. Insist that your publisher do this, or (better, because you know it'll get done) that you have the capacity to do this adequately. I was fortunate because the money I made from the Curves signing after tithing was just enough to pay for these extra books. Also, when I ordered the books, an extra box of 22 books was delivered with the order. I called and no one knew anything about it -- they were just there. Do you see what I mean when I say I sense God's hand in all this?

I have a secret weapon to help get the word out for my book. This single thing is as close to a magic bullet as I've been able to find. I've been using it for three years, I'm STILL using it, and I expect to use it for a long time to come. It's amazingly helpful even if you don't have a book out yet but are still writing.

Are you ready?

If you have a Christian world view, this is your ticket: The American Christian Fiction Writers' Organization (website HERE).

This is an organization of over a thousand writers, ranging from newbies to multipublished authors, plus editors and agents. They have many resources including critique groups, regional meetings, and several very active loops that pass on amazing bits of information. I have made a number of friendships here, including many of you reading this blog. I can ask questions, I can help other people with their questions, I can learn, I can find helpful websites, I can enter contests, and on and on. Joining is $50 the first year and $40 each year thereafter. For me it's been well worth it. For what it's worth, I'd suggest you get single emails rather than digest, and also you get a separate email address so your other correspondences don't get snowed under.

'Nuff said.

Is this marketing getting boring yet? Tomorrow I'll cover more of the groups that I sent to, but if you'd rather I can go back to other subjects. Let me know if you can't stand this!


Andra M. said...

Bored? Not hardly! I feel like an empty sponge where marketing is concerned, and your entries are filling me up just right.

*Squish* Still got room, so please continue.

Cathy Bryant said...

Hi Amy! Congratulations! I'm very excited that "A Lever Long Enough" was chosen as the ACFW Book Club book for March! Hugs and high fives!!!

Andra M. said...

Oh yeah. Congratulations on the win!

Anonymous said...

No way, keep it comin', Amy. I'm glad your book made it for ACFW book club. Whoo-Hoo!!!!

Rosslyn Elliott said...

This is not boring at all, Amy! I'm very interested and impressed by all the angles you worked for your book.

Alison Bryant said...

Count me in, too...carry on.

And congrats on the book club!

gzusfreek said...

I am so excited you won! And I can't wait to read it!

I'm not going anywhere. . .I'm learning and gaining so much. Your posts are blessings.

Congrats again!

Jessica said...

Not boring at all! :-) Congrats on winning! I had no clue there was voting for it but am glad you won!
What an awesome opportunity.
Can't wait to see what happens next.

Sarah Salter said...

CONGRATULATIONS, Amy!! I "borrowed" my brother's copy of "Lever" so that I can finish it! :-)

Anne L.B. said...

WOO-HOO! I'm THRILLED for you. This isn't the Pulitzer, but you've got to be so very pleased.

Amy, your blog was invaluable in helping me nail down the essence of my story. If the Lord opens the door to publishing, this is the first place I plan to return for follow-up on marketing. Thanks for taking the time to share.